Burnley MP in canal pipe safety call after boy's death
Updated 5:35pm Friday 25th April 2014 in News
BURNLEY MP Gordon Birtwistle is calling for the canal bridge pipe where tragic Robbie Williamson was playing to be cordoned off.
He said: "There should be something at either end, spikes or a metal ring, to prevent access. They need to make it completely inaccessible."
Robbie, 11, died on Tuesday night after he fell from the pipe and hit his head on the canal path before falling into the water.
Now United Utilities has launched an investigation into the safety of the pipe at Dugdale Bridge in Lowerhouse Lane, Rosegrove.
Helen Wilson, spokesperson for United Utilities, said: “We are very sorry to hear of this tragic accident and we are currently carrying out our own investigations.”
Mr Birtwistle, who visited the scene yesterday, welcomed the United Utilities investigation.
He said: “It absolutely needs to be blocked off and should have been before now.
“Unfortunately it will be too late for this young lad but it could prevent it happening again.
“It’s absolutely tragic what has happened to this young lad. These are the things that young boys do.
“That pipe has been there for many years and I’m sure many children have walked across it, but you can never be sure what’s going to happen."
Rosegrove and Lowerhouse residents, including Sarah Stevenson, mother of Robbie’s best friend, Josh, said the pipe had been a safety concern for a long time.
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Mrs Stevenson said: “It’s just devastating. I can’t believe it. All the kids have done it. It needs blocking off.”
Peter Graham, the man who pulled Robbie’s body from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, said the pipe, which is attached to the side of the bridge, was plagued daily by youngsters climbing from one side to the other.
He said: “That pipe needs to be fenced over. I’ve only lived here for two months but I believe that every single day there’s a kid on it.”
One resident, who lives in the terraced row of houses just yards from the scene of the tragedy, said she wanted the pipe removed.
The 30-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, said: “I want that pipe pulled down. It’s appalling. It needs to be taken down.
“All my lifetime kids have played on it. What else have kids got to do in Burnley? It shouldn’t have taken this much to get it down.”
The number of floral tributes, balloons, Burnley FC scarves and messages of condolences for Robbie, tied to the railings and laid on the canal path, grew overnight.
Brian Parkinson, of Rosegrove Residents’ Association, said he would raise the matter with ward councillors.
Mr Parkinson, who has lived in Rosegrove for more than 40 years, said yesterday: “I’ll be seeing councillors tonight and will ask if something can be done about the pipe.”
• AROUND 100 messages of condolence have been written on the wall underneath the bridge where Robbie Williamson died.
Beside dozens of floral tributes on the canal path, three permanent markers had been left in a box for people to leave their own personal note to the 11-year-old.
Burnley FC scarves also adorned the railings of the cobbled footpath between Lowerhouse Lane and the canal.
One message read: “RIP Robbie, you’re with the angels now.” Another said: “Rest in peace Robbie. Gone but not forgotten.”
And a touching message from his mum, Nicola Grimshaw, said: “My gorgeous baby. I love you, I miss you, always in my heart forever. Mum x”
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